THE South African Police Service (SAPS) in Free State has opened a culpable homicide case against Federation of Lesotho Rugby (FLR) vice president and founding coach of the Mabote Beavers, Letsielo Mabitle, following a 22 June 2019 fatal accident which killed five female rugby players in Botshabelo.
Mr Mabitle was driving the car when the accident happened killing four of his players on the scene while one died on arrival at the hospital.
They were on their way to Bloemfontein for a match against Mangaung Rugby club when disaster struck.
According to reports, the Toyota Hilux double cab, which Mr Mabitle was driving burst a tyre and he lost control resulting in a head-on collision with another car travelling from the opposite direction.
Mpho Macheli, Keketso Tšeuoa, Thato Moahi and Lerato Kelepa died on the spot while Mamello Moseme died upon arrival at the hospital in Bloemfontein.
Six other players are still nursing injuries from the accident.
SAPS’ Sergeant Martin Xuma told the Sunday Express that they have opened investigations into a culpable homicide case and investigations are ongoing.
“A case of culpable homicide is being investigated after a white Toyota Hilux Double Cab with Lesotho registration heading to Bloemfontein burst a tyre,” Sgt Xuma said.
“The driver lost control and the collided with two oncoming vehicles, an Isuzu Double Cab and a Nissan NP200. Five females and one male died during the accident which happened along N8 at about 14:30 hours on 22 June 2019.”
He also said they suspect that some of the players were riding in the back of the truck, a practise which is illegal in South Africa.
“The deceased players were indeed at the back of a van. The issue of people who were riding at the back of the van is part of the investigation and only the court will decide on the illegality thereof in line with Road Traffic Act,” he said.
Although he said court dates would be set once the police’s investigations are completed, he did not clarify why they had opened a culpable homicide had been opened against Mr Mabitle.
The bodies of the deceased players were repatriated to the country on the 25th of June and were received by emotional mourners at the Maseru Border.
A moving memorial service was held at the Ha-Mabote Lesotho Evangelical Church Southern Africa on Thursday.
Present at the memorial service were Minister of Education and Training Ntoi Rapapa, Minister of Water Samonyane Ntsekele, Minister of Local Government and Chieftainship Litsoane Litsoane, Sports Minister Mahali Phamotse, Mabote and Berea legislators Faku Moshoehsoe and Motlatsi Maqelepo.
The Commissioner of Police, Holomo Molibeli, Maseru Region 5 2020 games chairperson Fusi Notoane and Lesotho National Olympics Committee (LNOC) and representatives from the Lesotho Sport and Recreation Commission (LSRC) were also present.
The preparations for the burial of the players are yet to be finalised.